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Say It Right Series

Inquiring about age?

Posted by wufeifei July 6, 2008 in the Group General Discussion.

It's such a simple topic, but it constantly creates confusion, at least for me: How exactly does you ask for the age of someone?

According to my textbook it's 你今年多少岁?

The CP dictionary contains 你?, 多大?*, ?, apperently used interchangeably.

In Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar (Claudia Ross/Jing-Heng Sheng Ma) the following sentences can be found : 你多大? (young person),?(child), 你多大年纪?*/你多大岁数?(adult), 您今年高寿?(elderly person, polite)

In addition, they note that 几 is used for small numbers and is therefore not possible when your interlocutor is an adult.

So far, I have only encountered the questions marked with an asterisk.

Which are the most common expressions? When are these patterns appropriate, respectively?

Is the 了 compulsory (or does it rather indicate that the current age is of interest)? What about the distinction betweenand 多大?

Thank you so much in advance for helping me to clear this up.

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